The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a number of factors including supply chain optimisation and the growing importance of technologies such as robotic inventory management, retail trading platforms, and contactless payments. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Retail: Automated vending kiosk restocking. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, ATM-type vending kiosks, delivery returns handling, and shopping interface personalization are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Retail trading platforms and contactless payments are two of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are POS-integrated card readers and transaction receipt printers, which are now well-established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the retail industry

Automated vending kiosk restocking is a key innovation area in retail

Automated vending kiosk restocking is a kind of targeted communication in which an electronic device dispenses commodity items such as combs, stamps, chocolates, soft drinks, and potato chips, without direct human intervention. It also allows employees involved in restocking to receive notifications on awaiting inventory restock with more information on the provisions on their mobiles.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated vending kiosk restocking.

Key players in automated vending kiosk restocking – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to automated vending kiosk restocking

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Outerwall 49 Unlock Company Profile
HILLMAN GROUP THE 18 Unlock Company Profile
Cleveron 15 Unlock Company Profile
Big Time Products 14 Unlock Company Profile
NB Products 14 Unlock Company Profile
V-Sync 11 Unlock Company Profile
Minute Key Holdings 11 Unlock Company Profile
Grendene 10 Unlock Company Profile
Best Buy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong New Beiyang Info-Tech 9 Unlock Company Profile
Zume 9 Unlock Company Profile
ecoATM 7 Unlock Company Profile
PepsiCo 7 Unlock Company Profile
Vengo 7 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
FoodPairing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Barclays 6 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 6 Unlock Company Profile
Fiserv 5 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Holding 5 Unlock Company Profile
Swyft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Geekplus Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Hive Box Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Indie 5 Unlock Company Profile
JPMorgan Chase 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading players in the automated vending kiosk restocking space in terms of patents filed are Outerwall, Hillman Group, Cleveron, and Big Time Products. Cleveron’s automated self-service parcel solution Cleveron 401 was chosen by Asda, a British supermarket chain. The click and collect parcel vending machine allows Asda’s customers to collect and return online orders in the store as a self-service option.

In terms of application diversity, Barclays, Cleveron, Hillman Group, and NB Products are the leading players.

In terms of geographic reach, Midea Holding, Cleveron, Minute Key Holdings, and SoftBank Group are the top players.

Robotic kiosks and automated stocking and restocking of inventory in vending kiosks will grow in popularity as they give companies space to use their human resources more efficiently rather than on mundane tasks.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Retail.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.